Google and automakers are in the process of rolling out Android Auto, which adds a layer of extra connectivity for people who use Android smartphones (iPhone users get Apple CarPlay). But why stop there? Beyond adding smartphone connectivity, Google may build features directly into future infotainment systems—it's working on a version of Android specifically for cars, according to a new Reuters report.
The tech giant could announce plans for this next phase of in-car Android development when the next version of the operating system—dubbed Android M—appears in about a year or so.
The advantage of building Android directly into cars is that Google won't have to rely on drivers plugging in their smartphones to have a presence on the dashboard. It could also potentially gain access to data from a car's other electronic systems—which it could then analyze just like the data from its search engine.
Google could look at a driver's GPS location, fuel level, and the duration of stops, sources said, to learn their habits in a sort of real-world version of its online advertising-driven business model. Big Brother, eat your heart out.
However, Google would have to work with automakers to accomplish this, and they may have concerns. Android's stability and performance will reportedly have to be improved to work in cars. It will have to start up as soon as the ignition is turned on, with no lag.
Automakers may also be hesitant to build infotainment systems around Google, because it may erode brand distinctions. As with any other aspect of a car, companies want to use in-car tech to stand out from the competition.